Chante Carter ‘19 holds down a job and raises a young child in addition to her full-time studies at Chaminade University’s School of Nursing. The Kahuku High School graduate is also the first person in her family to attend college.

All these factors – plus a strong GPA – combined to earn Carter the First Generation Community Scholarship from the Hawaii Community Foundation. The non-profit organization, which awarded more than $6 million in scholarships this year, recognized students and donors August 5 at a statewide ceremony.

“My family is very proud of me, but they aren’t able to afford to support my education,” Carter explains. “So every dollar that I received in scholarships has helped support my dream of becoming a nurse one day.”

Carter also obtained funding from the Pauahi Foundation and a Hoʻoulu STEM Scholarship from Chaminade and Kamehameha Schools.

“Affordability for college is always a struggle,” Carter says, “especially when you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to paying for it. My process is a little easier now that I’ve had some experience. I literally Google words like ‘Native Hawaiian scholarship’ and many pop up.”

After identifying scholarship possibilities, Carter begins the application process by asking professors “way ahead of time” to proofread her essays and write recommendation letters.

“It may seem like a lot,” Carter says, “but there are so many professors that offer to help.”

Carter says it “feels really good” being a first-generation college student and “setting a good example for my younger cousins.”

“They all look up to me and ask me for advice when it comes to applying for scholarships and getting into college,” Carter says. “And that makes me want to work even harder for them so they can also believe in themselves.”

The future nurse describes her upbringing as “a little complicated.”

“When I was ten years old, my dad’s sister adopted me because of drug-related reasons my parents were going through at the time,” Carter says. “My auntie always encouraged me to stay in school – the sky’s the limit. She always acknowledged my hardships as a child, but she always told me to not let the past get in the way of my success. And I believed her!”

Carter says she chose the nursing field “because I love working with people.”

“I believe this is a job where you can really be a part of your community and make a difference in it,” she says. “Having a job that helps others makes my life worthwhile.”

Carter says she enrolled at Chaminade because “the professors are awesome” and they truly care about helping students succeed.

Her biggest takeaway from nursing classes? They’re certainly not easy.

“It’s a tough curriculum,” Carter points out. “But if you believe in yourself enough to think you are that right person who can make a difference in this world, then that’s when you know this is the career for you.”

Carter’s advice for future nursing students?

“When you fall, get up again and again until you get there,” she counsels. “Don’t ever think because you have a setback that it will change your path to success. It does not matter how long it took you to get there. As long as you get there, that’s what matters most.”